Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 5 (4):396 - 413 (2011)
|Abstract||Sport, in modern times, finds its roots in the mythological sources of ancient Greece, where it was born as a sacred game to be performed in the honour of Zeus in Olympia or of other gods elsewhere during the Panhellenic games. Since the beginning of the twentieth century and until the 1970s sport was mythogenic (Barthes 1975). But is sport still mythogenic in the twenty-first century? Our analysis attempts to answer two questions: (i) what has been the influence of doping and sponsorship on contemporary sport; and (ii) how (if at all) have both influenced the symbolic contemporary forms of the sportsman/woman myth. We argue that modern sport has become increasingly dependent upon the industrial and entertainment worlds, thus losing along the way the imprinting of symbolic innocence that the myth conferred in the recent past. Moreover, the contemporary perception of sportsmen/women by the general public has changed in so far as it concerns the symbolic aspect of the performer. If their function as social link appears to be intact, sportsmen seem to have lost the classical Olympic symbolism that was generally accepted among spectators until a few decades ago. It does not appear that the mythical aura of sport has been lost but rather the symbols that it has previously carried. Popular admiration is nowadays more concentrated on the sportsman's capacity to acquire fame and fortune by means that appear to be in everybody's reach, including doping. Consequently, the commoner identifies him/her self with the sportsman/woman but does not see him/her any longer as a hero carrying classical moral values|
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